What's Happened? What's Happening? 30/07/15 #WHWH

07:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

What's Happened? What's Happening was back with a vengeance two weeks ago and we've loved reading your accounts of your days out, events, holidays and yummy meals out in What's Happened? We've loved seeing previews of forthcoming events in What's Happening? too.

Each fortnight we will be choosing our favourites from the linky before to showcase. We went with a Stately Home theme this week. Both of our families enjoy exploring historic venues and their grounds and we're lucky to have some fabulous examples within a nearby drive. Somewhere that's been on the 'to visit' list for a while is Blenheim Palace and Oxfordshire Bloggers' account of their visits over the years was written with real fondness for somewhere that's clearly important to Mary and her family.

Blenheim Palace - A Palace for All Seasons from Oxfordshire Bloggers
Photo Credit: Over 40 and a Mum to One

Our second choice was a fun toddlers day out for Hello Archie. Neither of us have ever shied away from taking our toddlers anywhere and it's always good to see other people follow suit. Bowood House is somewhere we've heard of through it's links with Tractor Ted and it looks to be a great place to explore with children of any age.

Toddlers Day Out at Bowood House from Hello Archie
Photo Credit: Hello Archie

Our What's Happening? choice was We're Going on an Adventure's trip to Cheshire Oaks which showcased their fantastic range of family fun activities. Although we've both visited Cheshire Oaks in the past I don't think either of us realised that they had so much planned for children over the Summer. I definitely think we might take a trip at some point. The photos in Colette's post were fab, how amazing to have a professional photographer follow you around on a shopping trip!

We're Going on an Adventure - Cheshire Oaks

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

We'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

We read and comment on every one and share on Twitter, Facebook. Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

We've created a Pinterest board where we pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

Follow What's Happened? What's Happening? on Pinterest.

As always, please grab our badge to show you've joined in and point your readers in our direction.

Red Rose Mummy

A Visit to Conkers

00:28 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last weekend we were invited to Conkers to go and experience their 'world of adventure and discovery at the heart of the National Forest'. It was a glorious Summer's day and the perfect weather to make the most of this attraction.

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire

Conkers is an award winning visitor attraction situated in the heart of the National Forest in the Midlands. It's an area we are familiar with from previous visits but this was our first time at Conkers. It features a unique mix of indoor and outdoor experiences across 120 acres of maturing woodlands, lakes, ponds, play areas and an 18-stage assault course challenge. Indoors, a British Woodland has over 100 indoor interactive exhibits in four seasonal zones or visitors can experience the Enchanted Forest, climbing through the treetops and along rope walkways.

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire

We arrived to be met by the Conkers team who set us off on an Orienteering course around the site. This was a fab way of getting our bearings as we searched for letters to unscramble a very relevant word at Conkers. We were able to take a look at the maze, assault course, lake and tree top wires course as we worked out our nine letter anagram before heading to our mystery assembly point.

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire Bushcraft Area

We all met up at the Bushcraft area and said the word we had worked out from our collected letters. I'm not going to tell you what it was though! We got it right and one of the rangers explained that we were now on a survival mission and we had to build a shelter big enough for our family and then set a fire. As our orienteering had been successful we were promised marshmallows to roast on our fire. Yummy!

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire Bushcraft Area

Ian's eyes lit up at the challenge we had been set as these are exactly the type of activities he enjoys sharing with his Explorer Scouts Unit. He quickly set about assembling quite a complex shelter with assistance from Bud and LM. Using the provided tarp as a roof and lots of branches as a supporting structure, it drew a few admiring glances from some of my fellow bloggers. I did explain that he had quite advanced experience though!

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire Bushcraft Area

Fire lighting proved a little more tricky. It was simple to set the fire and Ian eschewed the demo because he knew what he was doing, however, he couldn't quite work out how to use the flint as it was different to those he was used to and had to get one of the Rangers to help him. Our fire was soon roaring and Ian and I enjoyed roasting our marshmallows. Bud and LM didn't like them roasted and settled for eating them as they came instead.

Following the Bushcraft session we headed down to the Barefoot Walk. This is a 450 metre walk which allows you to explore the sensation of so many different textures including water, clay, stone and many others. Ian, Bud and LM headed off to experience the walk. I had Little E in the carrier so I stayed with him and acted as their cheerleader. They loved every second of it and Bud wanted to do it again when it was finished!

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire Barefoot Walk

From the Barefoot Walk it was a short step to the nearby Conkerchoo II Railway Station to catch the little train down to the Waterside area for lunch. The train was great fun for everyone and was a lovely way to travel down to our lunch venue. This offered time to recoup and catch up with some of our friends who were there with us.

The afternoon saw time to explore Conkers at our leisure and we immediately headed for the Playdale Play Zone to let off some steam. Sadly, as we headed there Bud started to feel a little unwell and, after a short time playing on the park it became clear that it wasn't something he could just shake off and we had to head home. This meant that we didn't get the chance to explore Conkers as much as we would have liked.

A Visit to Conkers Leicestershire Playdale Park

I think we'll definitely return to Conkers. We had a wonderful time there and there's so much of the site that we didn't have the chance to explore through leaving early. It's a fantastic outdoor attraction which allows families to explore nature and get their hands (and feet) dirty. The site was well laid out and we managed fine with the pushchair and the carrier so it's really accessible, making it perfect for families.

If you're thinking of visiting Conkers then you could include it as part of a short break to Leicestershire, check out the Stay Play Explore which offers the opportunity to visit three out of five attractions (including Conkers) and a night in a hotel, with prices starting from just £129.  

Red Rose Mummy

Dora & Friends Toys and #DoraSingalong Fun This Summer

19:35 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

LM has developed something of an obsession over the past few months, in the way almost three year olds do, and the target of her affections has been Dora and Friends, the animated series on Nick Jr. When we heard about the new range of Dora and Friends toys from Fisher Price I knew that she would be super excited and I was completely right. We've been sent a selection of the range of toys and LM has been really happy with all of them.

The new range includes a variety of Dora themed toys. For those not in the know, Dora and Friends sees the character Dora the Explorer grow up and move to the city where she makes a new group of her friends and uses her magic charm bracelet and smartphone Map App to help on their adventures.

The range includes dolls, charm bracelets and a smartphone just like Dora's. First up is the Chat With Me Dora Doll (RRP £29:99), the largest doll in the range. Dora arrives with her own smartphone for you to use. If you press the flower on her dress she speaks and sings songs from the TV Show.

Chat With Me Dora Doll Fisher Price Dora and Friends

Dora Magic Charm Bracelet (RRP £9:99) This bracelet is just like Dora's and you can see charms featuring her and all of her friends on there. It also has spaces to add additional charms which are supplied inside the pack and with other toys in the range. LM loved being able to wear a bracelet just like Dora's and enjoys being able to swap over the charms. The bracelet comes with five additional charms - a roller skate, horse, rainbow, star and hot air balloon - which will  help to fill up the charm bracelet.

Dora and Friends Magic Charm Bracelet

Magic Adventure Charms (RRP £7:99) Another charm bracelet features in these packs, alongside a small doll and three more charms which can be mixed and matched across the range.We received a mini Dora and a pink bracelet,dog, camera and bag charm. These are a real bargain and I think would make great little birthday party gifts. LM loves mixing all of the different charms together across the various toys,

Dora and Friends Magic Adventure Charms

Dora and Friends Dolls (RRP £10:99) LM loves her dollies and I knew she'd be delighted with these dolls as soon as we opened the pack. Dressed in outfits related to a particular episode of the show we received Dora and Alana in their Doggy Day clothes. The dolls are really lovely, definitely little girls rather than fashion dolls and with clothes and shoe that can be removed and replaced and hair that can be styled. They are the perfect introduction to this style of doll for little girls and LM loves them. Dora and Alana have been pretty much everywhere with her since they arrived and she loves brushing their hair and taking their shoes off. Each doll arrives with another charm for the bracelet sets too. I can definitely see us adding a couple more of the dolls to LM's collection when her birthday arrives in a few weeks. She loves Neiya so that one will be on her list.

Dora and Friends Dolls Dora and Alana

Dora Talk & Play Smartphone (RRP £9:99) This, alongside the dolls, has been LM's favourite of the toys. She loves a toy phone and this, despite the pink and purple colour scheme, seems a little more realistic than many toy phones. LM loves pressing the 'touch screen' and hearing the phrases and songs from the show, and watching the lights flash. It's been a huge hit here and LM constantly says it is 'just like Dora's'. Perfect for pretend play. The touch screen flicks between Dora, a key pad and a picture of all of the friends together.

Dora and Friends Talk & Play Smartphone

The whole range of Dora and Friends toys is available at Smyth's Toys.

 Nick Jr Singalong Summer Dora and Friends

Dora and Friends are going on tour this Summer to promote the Nick Jr Singalong Summer  which is on your TV screens right now. The roadshow will be visiting Smyth's Toys stores over the next few weeks with a Singalong booth and character appearances at selected stores and Sky stands as follows:

Symths Toys
  • Waterfields Retail Park, Watford (Dora Costume Character)  – 27th July
  • Westwood Cross Shopping Park, Thanet  – 28th July
  • St. David’s Retail Park, Swansea – 29th July
  • Crown Retail Park, Leeds (Dora Costume Character) – 31st July
  • Clifton Moor Retail Park, York (Costume Character) – 3rd August
  • Ravenhead Retail Park, St.Helens  – 5th August
  • Halls Mill Retail Park, Bury – 6th August
  • Middle Engine Lane, Wallsend – 10th August
  • Glasgow Fort Shopping Park, Glasgow (Costume Character) – 12th August
  • Beach Boulevard, Aberdeen (Costume Character) – 14th August
Sky stands
  • Brent Cross, London – 18th-19th July
  • Centre MK, Milton Keynes – 25th– 26th July
  • White Rose, Leeds  – 1st– 2ndAugust
  • Intu Eldon Square, Newcastle  – 8th– 9th August
  • Bon Accord, Aberdeen – 15th– 16th August
We're hoping to visit the Bury store next week.

 Nick Jr Singalong Summer Dora and Friends

Twitter Frenzy
Tomorrow, 27th July 2015 from 11am - 12 noon, the Nick Jr Singalong Summer will be taking over the @ukmumstv Twitter account. There will be masses of singalong fun and lots of prizes to be won. Check out #SingalongFun to join in with all of the excitement. I'll be there!

To find out more about the different events check out UK Mums TV.
Will you be joining in with the Singalong Summer?

Triop World from Interplay UK

13:24 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Regular readers will know that Bud is dinosaur crazy so when the opportunity to hatch some tiny creatures that have been around on the planet since dinosaurs walked the earth I knew he would love it. We were sent the Triop World Kit from Interplay and have been hatching our Triops.

Triop World from Interplay UK

Triops are small crustaceans with a fossil record dating back over 300 million years Their eggs lie dormant in dry areas until they get wet and hatch. They are fond of warm, dirty water which allows them to eat bacteria in it.

The Triops World kit includes a small tank, a packet of Triops eggs, a packet of detritus, packet of Triops food, bag of sand, plastic spoon and pipette. You will also receive an informative instruction booklet. To prepare to hatch your Triops you need to collect rain water. We used a bucket in the garden and then filtered it through a muslin cloth to ensure that any bits were removed. We then poured it into the tank. You place half of the packets of detritus and eggs in the tank and you should start to see life within 24 hours.

Triop World from Interplay UK

We had a few tiny different creatures hatch at first but the Triops soon ate them and we were left with one large Triop. Within 24 hours they look like tiny versions of their adult form which allows you to see them develop, there is a really good guide to their form in the instruction booklet,

After three days you can skim off some of the detritus on the top of the tank using the included plastic spoon, and also feed the Triops using a tiny pinch of the food. We found that our Triops must have laid eggs because, as one died another was growing up to replace it. It was interesting to watch them grow and, as they fed on the greener matter at the base of the tank, change colour to reflect what they had been eating.

Bud has been competely fascinated by the Triops kit and has been so excited to watch them swimming around in their tan. The largest Triop got to around two centimetres long so it was easy to watch it swimming around, We did find that some of the Triops died and were found floating on top of the water even though we hadn't seen that many of the little creatures in the tank. Very strange!

The Triops are really hard to photograph in action but here's a little video of them in action.

A video posted by Pippa Ainsworth (@redrosemummy) on
Triop World is part of Nick Baker's range of My Living World kits for Interplay UK. You can find Interplay UK on Facebook and Twitter.

Bean Bag Planet Baby Bean Bag - Review and Giveaway

11:48 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I ordered Little E a swing a few months ago but he hates it and we don't really have room for it so an alternative was much needed. We've been sent a Baby Bean Bag from Bean Bag Planet recently and this has proven the perfect replacement for the swing.

Bean Bag Planet have a range of baby bean bags in lovely prints and a range of colours. They are supplied with two covers, one which includes a T-Bar strap to hold your baby in and one which is plain to allow your toddler to use it. The covers simply zip on and off so you can change the style as your child grows. The fact that the covers zip off means that they can easily be removed for washing too.

Bean Bag Planet Baby Bean Bag in Teal Zoo - Review and Giveaway

The Tale of City Sue - Giveaway

10:59 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Kerrygold, the Irish butter people, have recently teamed up with top children's book author Jeanne Willis and renowned illustrator Dermot Flynn to create their very own story - The Tale of Cindy Sue.

City Sue is a cow with a lot to learn, she joins the herd at Fairy Meadow with farmer Finn O'Lairy, who teach her all about the joys of country living.

The storybook is also available online at the Kerrygold website where it is voiced by a rather special Irish celebrity. It has been designed to reflect how Kerrygold produce their butter - using small co-operative farms where herds graze freely on the lush green grass. The cows then produce rich, creamy milk which gives Kerrygold it's unique taste.

Brand Manager for Kerrygold,  Gemma Singh comments, “We are thrilled with the creation of our storybook ‘The Tale of City Sue’. The charming tale perfectly encapsulates the values at the heart of Kerrygold and we really hope that families enjoying reading it together”.

I've teamed up with Kerrygold to give away TEN copies of The Ballad of City Sue to my readers. To enter simply complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entry options. Please read the terms and conditions.

If you aren't lucky this time check out Kerrygold UK on Facebook for lots more chances to win through the Summer.

The Ballad of City Sue

The Return of What's Happened? What's Happening? #WHWH

07:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

What's Happened? What's Happening? is back from it's pregnancy required break just in time for the Summer Holidays when there are lots of events and activities taking place. It's back with a bang and I'm now going to be co-hosting with one of blogging besties, Jen from My Mummy's Pennies.

In future weeks we will be highlighting posts from previous link ups, sometimes with a theme (if one leaps out at us) and other times simply because we wish we'd been there or we really fancy going! 

As this is the first week of the new linky we've been looking at some of our favourite blogs to see what they have been up to and share some ideas of things to do over the Summer holidays.

The Minions movie is high on many children's 'to do' list for the Summer and we loved In the Playroom's review of the film. It looks like her boys really enjoyed it. Can any of you say 'banana' without thinking of the minions now?

I'm off to visit Conkers next week and I hope we enjoy it as much as Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One and her son did. We're definitely looking forward to some outdoors fun and I can't wait to link it up in future weeks. I just hope the weather is a little kinder to us!

Jen and I both live in the North-West and love to get outdoors and hands on with nature so Karen from That Lancashire Lass' post showcasing the best of wildlife in Lancashire really appeals to both of us. I think we'll both be adding these to our 'to visit' lists.

We're hoping you all have posts ready to link up, whether you've been away recently, or out for the day, perhaps you've been to a fantastic blog event? We would love to see what you have been up to. If you haven't got a recent post, why not share your favourite ever blog event, or a day out that you loved and wrote up a while ago? Link up these posts to What's Happened? We'd love to see a bumper linkup this week to welcome the linky back with a bang.

Have you been writing about holiday plans or anything coming up? The Summer holidays are almost upon us. If you're writing about your planned outings or holidays please link up to What's Happening?

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

We'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

We read and comment on every one and share on Twitter, Facebook. Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

We've created a Pinterest board where we pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

Follow What's Happened? What's Happening? on Pinterest.

As always, please grab our badge to show you've joined in and point your readers in our direction.

Red Rose Mummy

What Little E Wore - Plain Lazy Baby Tees

19:34 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Having another little boy in the house gives me the opportunity to seek out some bright and funky clothes for him to wear from brands that I had no idea existed back when Bud was a baby. I was aware of Plain Lazy from their bean bags but their range of clothing was entirely new to me when they got in touch to offer Little E a t-shirt to try out.

What Little E Wore - Plain Lazy Baby Tees Can't Wheelie (Yet)

Plain Lazy have a wide range of clothing for the whole family. Regular readers might be aware that I'm not overly keen on slogans on clothing but I do love road cycling so the opportunity to get Little E something bike themed was too hard to resist. I chose the Can't Wheelie (Yet) tee in Bright Red for him to try.

What Little E Wore - Plain Lazy Baby Tees Can't Wheelie (Yet)

We received the t-shirt in size 0-6 months, which is the first size available. Obviously Little E is currently only seven weeks old so I knew it would be rather large on him but the colour looked great and I was pleased with it. The t-shirt has an envelope neck which makes it easy to get on and off and is beautifully soft against his skin. It is a bit big but he has lots of growing room in it and it will fit him for some time to come, I've washed it a couple of times and am pleased with how well the colour has stood up to the wash cycle, it hasn't faded at all. I think it will last well until it no longer fits Little E.

What Little E Wore - Plain Lazy Baby Tees Can't Wheelie (Yet)

I've teamed up with Plain Lazy to offer two of my readers the opportunity to win their choice of baby t-shirt from the Plain Lazy range. In order to enter please check out the Plain Lazy Baby T-Shirts then follow me (@RedRoseMummy) and Plain Lazy (@plnlzy) and tweet us both with your choice of t-shirt from their range which you can see here and use the hashtag #PlainLazyBaby.

Your tweet should read as follows, for example:

You must tweet an original tweet, retweets will not be accepted.
The giveaway will close at 11:59pm on Monday 27th July 2015.

Terms and Conditions:
UK Only. 
One entry per person.
Automated or multiple tweets will be disqualified.
Winners will be chosen using random.org
The winners will be notified on Twitter and should respond within 28 days of the tweet. Failure to do so will cause me to redraw the competition and offer the prize to an alternative winner. 
Social media subscribers must stay subscribed for a minimum of 14 days after the giveaway ends. There are two prizes of a Plain Lazy Baby T-shirt of the winner's choice, one for each winner, in the size of their choice. If the choice is not available the winner will be asked to give an alternative choice.
No Cash Alternative. 
Prize is not transferable. 
The winners' details will be passed to Plain Lazy for fulfilment of the prize. 
Red Rose Mummy is not responsible for non-delivery of the prize. 
The competition is promoted by Plain Lazy, Red Rose Mummy is the advertiser. 

My Stinky New School - Review and Giveaway

18:22 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

My Stinky New School is a brand new book from Rebecca Elliott, which is the perfect Summer read for those starting school or nursery, or transitioning through the early years of primary school like Bud.

My Stinky New School Book Review

Rebecca Elliott is renowned for her books which address tricky issues for children, inspired by her children and especially by the loss of her daughter Clemmie last year. Her previous books have been widely acclaimed with Michael Rosen describing Just Because as ‘a truly lovely book… fun, rhythmic and thoughtful’ Jacqueline Wilson saying it is ‘delightful, warm and beautifully illustrated’.

My Stinky New School tells the story of Toby, who starts a brand new school and doesn't like it. At all! He doesn't like how his school smells and he can't see any new friends there. He finds an alien, a mermaid, a dinosaur expert and a pirate, but no friends! But who are those people waving him goodbye when his Mummy picks him up?

My Stinky New School Book Review

Bud really loved this story, it's pitched perfectly at children aged around three upwards and is a warm, engaging story which really helps to reassure children that they will make friends at their new school. It would work just as well for a younger child moving to a new school as it would for them starting school for the first time. The book is beautifully illustrated and, from a parent's point of view, fun to read.

My Stinky New School Book Review

My Stinky New School is out now in hardback, published by Lion Children's Books, and is available from all usual stockists, including Amazon.

I have a copy of My Stinky New School to give away to one of my readers. To enter the giveaway please complete the Gleam widget below and read the terms and conditions.

My Stinky New School

We received a copy of the book for review purposes

Listed at www.theprizefinder.com
Tried and Tested

Summer Maternity and Nursing Style

12:04 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Summer can be a tricky time when you're pregnant, you're already over heated from carrying a tiny person around, especially in later pregnancy, but you need to be stylish on those days when sitting in front of a fan at home aren't an option. Breastfeeding can be just as tricky a time and nursing can also make you feel very warm!

I've put together a few looks from one of my favourite maternity brands - Bibee Maternity - which are all suitable for breastfeeding in, thanks to their innovative Fronts.

First up a casual look. These feature maternity harem trousers but the lovely, floaty Cap Sleeve Tunic works equally well for pregnant or nursing mums. Team it with a Bibee cropped vest or one of their range of fronts (like the ruffled one shown below) for a look which will work just as well on Summer days out as it will for relaxing at home.

Bibee Maternity Nursing Cap Sleeve Tunic and Ruffled Front.

It can be so hard to find a formal outfit which works well when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. We have a wedding to attend in a few weeks so I've been looking at the Bibee's range for a potential purchase. I love this Classic Blue Cowl Front Dress which looks amazing paired with a patterned cowl neck front. The elegant draping at the front of the dress means it hangs beautifully over both a bump, or a tummy that you might not feel confident about showing off in those new baby days. There are also maxi dresses available, depending on whether or not you want to get your legs out. I'd probably pop a shawl over my shoulders (as that's an area I like to cover up) but I think it would look so lovely for a Summer formal event.

Bibee Maternity Classic Blue Cowl Front Dress

As I'm a stay at home mum I don't have the 'what to wear to the office' dilemma but I remember how tricky it was when I was pregnant with Bud. I was always a fan of jersey dresses and Bibee Maternity have a fantastic range of these. The Original Knee Length Grey dress is a fantastic option for workwear. You could purchase a couple of different fronts and they would provide the basics for a stylish maternity wardrobe. When baby arrives the dresses would look great 'dressed down' for relaxed newborn days. They would work well if you're still breastfeeding on your return to work too, especially if you're pumping while away from your baby.

Bibee Original Grey Knee-Length Dress

Footwear can be tricky when you're pregnant, especially if your feet are swollen. I lived in flip flops during my Summer pregnancy with LM and I adore my FitFlops now I'm no longer pregnant now. I have a pair of FitFlop Lulu Casual Shimmer Sandals* which haven't been off my feet over recent weeks. It's my second pair of Lulus and the shimmery quality to these makes them perfect for all but formal occasions. I wasn't able to wear my Fitflops when I was pregnant, due to SPD but now I'm no longer suffering I have been so pleased to be back in them. Fitflops claim to tone your legs while you walk and I definitely feel like they do have an impact on mine. I love them and they really are my Summer staple. My other pair of Lulu sandals is over two years old and still looks great, Fitflops are definitely worth their price tag in my opinion.

FitFlop Lulu Casual Shimmer Sandals

What are you wearing to dress your bump, or nurse easily in this Summer?

*PR Sample

The Gro-Snug Newborn Swaddle and Sleeping Bag

14:16 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We've long been fans of The Gro Company and the innovative products they bring to the nursery market. We've tried a fair few of their products over the years so I was excited to be given the opportunity to try out their brand new product - the Gro-Snug - with Little E.

The Gro Company Gro-Snug newborn swaddle and sleeping bag

The Gro-Snug combines a swaddle with a first sleeping bag, making it perfect for newborns. You have the option of having the baby's arms inside for swaddling, leaving one arm out or having both arms free. It's easy to use and you don't need to worry about folding or wrapping, you simply place your baby inside the Gro-Snug and zip it up.

The Gro Company Gro-Snug newborn swaddle and sleeping bag

We received the Gro-Snug in Grey Marl for Little E (it's also available in Rainbow Spot and Pure White). The Gro-Snug is aimed at babies from 5lbs to 11lbs so Little E was up at the top of the weight range. He's never really tolerated being swaddled as his arms are very animated. Restricting his arms makes Little E a bit cross. In the interests of trying the Gro-Snug fully I did try him with the armholes closed and he didn't mind it for a little while but started to get a bit irate when he realised he couldn't free his arms. I then switched him to arms open which he was absolutely fine with. To do this you simply open the sets of two poppers which close the arm holes and then the Gro-Snug acts as a first lightweight sleeping bag.

The Gro Company Gro-Snug newborn swaddle and sleeping bag

The Gro-Snug has all of the usual quality features I have come to expect from my experience of The Gro Company products, so seams are finished well, zip ends have covers so they can't rub anywhere. The zip closes at the feet end so there's no risk of the zipper catching on little hands or faces. The chest panel on the Gro-Snug is reinforced to offer a stronger sense of reassurance for babies. For the armholes the poppers are fully enclosed so wriggly babies won't pop them open accidentally, they close firmly too. The shape of the Gro-Snug promotes the important 'frog leg' position for newborns and doesn't restrict the hips or legs at all.

The Gro Company Gro-Snug newborn swaddle and sleeping bag

The grey marl fabric used is beautifully soft, we've washed it a couple of times now and it's still as brand new. I wish I'd had the Gro-Snug from Little E being newborn as he had a strong startle reflex which often disturbed him in his first ten days or so. I did try swaddling him but used muslin swaddles and he was never happy with his arms being restricted in that way. I think that the stretchy fabric of the Gro-Snug, which allows a little arm movement, would have been much more palatable to him. We are still getting a lot of use from the Gro-Snug as it functions as Little E's first sleeping bag and he looks so comfortable and sleeps peacefully in it. The lightweight fabric is perfect for this time of year and I can feel confident in him being warm and cosy while he sleeps.

A photo posted by Pippa Ainsworth (@redrosemummy) on

As with all Gro Company sleeping bag products the Gro-Snug includes it's own nursery thermometer which makes it clear for each product how many layers of clothing should be worn in addition to the sleeping bag for the temperature of the room the baby is sleeping in. I was quite surprised by this when I first came across Gro sleeping bags as it never seemed to be enough layers for an anxious mum but I followed the guidelines and they are very helpful in ensuring that your baby doesn't get too hot or cold.

The Gro-Snug is avaiilable in two weights, dependent on the temperature of the room it will be used in - Cosy - for cooler rooms between 16-20° C and Light - for warmer rooms between 21-25° C - we have been using the Light version which has been perfect for Summer nights. With an RRP of £22:99 I think this is excellent value for money for a product which takes the confusion out of swaddling and answers the question 'is my baby ready for a sleeping bag' simply.

To buy the Gro-Snug visit The Gro Store.

Disclosure: We received the Gro-Snug for review purposes.

Little Learners from Parragon Books

10:14 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

One of my new baby traditions in our house is to buy any baby born to friends and family a book as part of our gift for newborns. I love the idea of giving the gift of reading to a brand new baby and always hope, that in some small way, this can lead to a lifelong love of books for the little person we are welcoming to the world. At Britmums Live a few weeks ago Little E and I met the team from Parragon Books who were promoting their Little Learners range.

Little Learners from Parragon Books

The Little Learners books are read and play books for babies and toddlers and their parents. They all offer a way of interacting with them beyond simply reading the book aloud. When we visited them at Britmums we were given two copies of one of the range, one to keep for my children and the other to give away. This will be the perfect first book for my brand new niece who will arrive next month. My lovely friend Jen from My Mummy's Pennies gave us one of her books as she new LM would love a book that can be carried around.

Baa Baa Black Sheep Little Learners from Parragon Books

I chose Baa Baa Black Sheep for Little E (and that's the book I will be giving to my new niece) and this is a lovely book for sharing with little ones. The twelve pages of the sturdy board book tell the nursery rhyme, with the added interest of a finger puppet little black sheep that the person reading the book can pop their finger inside and make the puppet move as they read the story. Little E is still a bit too young for books but we already include him in our bedtime story session. All of the children choose a book to read and Bud and LM have been choosing this one rather a lot for Little E, they love to make the puppet move too and it's lovely to see them including their new little brother in a special time of day for us all.

Baa Baa Black Sheep Little Learners from Parragon Books

With an RRP of just £3:99 and a range of nursery rhymes and finger puppets in the Little Learners range these are lovely books for babies (from around six months upwards), I definitely think Little E might find a couple more of them in his Christmas stocking this year.

Peek-a-boo I Love You Little Learners from Parragon Books

LM received Peek-a-boo I Love You from the Peek and Explore range. This is a beautiful book with a convenient carry handle - perfect for LM who thinks it's a book bag now.The story sees a range of animals saying who they love then suggesting an activity for the reader to do e.g. Race, chase and bark in the park, alongside a peep hole through to the animal on the next page that little fingers can poke through. It's very family focused and each animal says which family member they love.

Peek-a-boo I Love You Little Learners from Parragon Books

This is a really interactive book and LM loves exploring it with her fingers. In addition to the peep holes the heart design at the top of the book is graduated with each of the ten pages, which offers another way to interact. It's very simply written but LM is very much enjoying it. Her speech is progressing quite quickly at the moment and she enjoys repeating the simple text and talking about each animal, saying their name and making their noise. The book is really sturdy again and stands up well to little hands. When we've read it at bedtime Bud enjoys encouraging her to follow the actions on each page and joins in too although, at five, this is really the only part of this book that he finds engaging as it's aimed at a much younger audience. I'd say about eighteen months upwards would be perfect for this one and LM, at two years nine months, is very much enjoying it.

We've very much enjoyed our introduction to the Little Learners range and I think we will be adding to our collection in the future.

The Little Learners range is an imprint of Parragon Books and is available from all good book shops and Amazon.

Disclosure: We received the books for review purposes